Prospect Scouting & Stats — Hitter Hit Tool – Future

Yesterday, I listed and discussed the top 12 prospects in the Hit – Present (HP) grade. Today, let’s look toward the future, as we’ll take a gander at the top 14 in the Hit – Future (HF) grade. Since there are a whopping 42 prospects slapped with a 60 grade HF, I’m going to only include those with an FV of at least 55 in that HF tier. If the prospect also appeared on yesterday’s board, I won’t discuss him again.

Hit – Future Top 14
Name Org Pos Current Level Age Top 100 Org Rk FV Hit – Future
Wander Franco TBR SS A+ 19.1 1 1 80 80
Gavin Lux LAD 2B MLB 22.4 2 0 70 70
Nick Madrigal CHW 2B AAA 23.1 41 0 55 70
CJ Abrams SDP CF A 19.5 22 3 55 70
Keibert Ruiz LAD C 21.7 88 0 50 70
Vidal Brujan TBR 2B 22.2 27 3 55 65
Andrew Vaughn CHW 1B A+ 22.0 37 0 55 65
Adley Rutschman BAL C A 22.2 5 1 60 60
Jarred Kelenic SEA CF AA 20.8 11 2 60 60
Julio Rodriguez SEA RF A+ 19.3 9 1 60 60
Brendan Rodgers COL 2B MLB 23.7 31 1 55 60
Drew Waters ATL CF AAA 21.1 43 2 55 60
Luis Campusano SDP C A+ 21.5 40 4 55 60
Marco Luciano SFG SS A- 18.1 24 2 55 60

Well what do you know, our good friends Wander Franco and Gavin Lux, the top two overall prospects and also atop the HP board, appear atop the HF board as well. Amazingly, Franco is the only prospect to earn the coveted perfect 80 grade HF.

We have precious little data for 19-year-old Padres prospect CJ Abrams, as he just made his debut at the tender age of 18 and has amassed just 165 plate appearances, nearly all in the Rookie league. He struck out just 9% of the time, and showed off his elite speed by tripling an amazing eight times (that’s like 32 triples over a full season!) and swiping 14 bases (about 56 steals). Oh, and he’s a shortstop. The Padres sure have an embarrassment of riches at that position. He seems pretty exciting for fantasy.

Vidal Brujan is another overall top 30 ranked prospect, but his strikeout rate has risen at literally every single minor league stop, making it seven straight increases. The good news is that it started ridiculously low, so even with all those jumps, it still sat at a respectable 15% during his latest stint at Double-A. Right now, his best fantasy asset is his speed, as he swiped 48 bases last season and 55 the season before. But he’ll have to reverse his worsening walk and strikeout rate trends and his first tour of Triple-A will tell us a lot more about his potential as a starter.

It’s not often you find a potential power hitting first baseman that also sports a 65 HF grade, but that’s exactly what we find with Andrew Vaughn. His plate discipline has been fantastic, so now it’s just a matter of his power eventually developing.

Adley Rutschman was last year’s first overall pick, so we don’t have a lot of performance data to analyze. So far, I’m excited by his plate discipline rates, low SwStk%, and that he is already showing some power, though mostly in the form of doubles. That he’s a 60/70 fielder means he should stick behind the plate, boosting his fantasy potential.

The Mets traded away a big-time prospect in Jarred Kelenic to get Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and cash, as Kelenic sports strong hit and power grades. While the power has been there, I don’t see anything his his stat profile to suggest he’s going to earn that strong HF grade. His walk rate has been sub-9% in three of five minor league stats, while his strikeout rate has hovered around 20% for the most part, which is solid for a power guy, but nothing special. His BABIP has been up and down, but as a fly ball guy at risk for popping up, and a lefty prone to facing the shift, he seems more like a league average BABIP guy at best. So Kelenic looks like a nice prospect, but I wouldn’t expect him to be a batting average or OBP contributor early on.

Gosh, I’m amazed by the performance levels of these 18-year-olds, as Julio Rodriguez is another top 10 prospect who was impressive at age 18 last year. Though the sample size was much smaller at A+ versus A, he significantly cut down on his strikeout rate, while also increasing his power output. I’m looking forward to following him.

For the first time, it appears the HF grade is based solely on minor league BABIP history, as Drew Waters has posted rising strikeout rates (which has so far peaked at 36.1% at Triple-A), and sub-10% walk rates. Despite weak plate discipline rates, his BABIP marks have been absurd — four marks over .400, and his two under .400 were just over .360! Looking at his batted ball profile makes it pretty obvious how he has recorded such strong BABIP marks — lots of line drives, few fly balls and popups. He has shown power at times, and has some speed. This looks like a very interesting fantasy profile, but that strikeout rate is going to be key.

Luis Campusano swung and missed more at A+ versus A, but still managed to cut down on his strikeout rate to an impress level. I don’t know how sustainable that is, as his SwStk% matches up with a strikeout rate closer to 20% than 10%. That said, he did enjoy a power surge and has maintained a .335+ BABIP the last two years. With a 40/45 fielding grade, his future fantasy potential will heavily depend on his ability to remain a catcher.

With 70 grade game and raw power and 60 grade HF, Marco Luciano looks darn exciting. And he’s only 18! Maybe by the time he gets his promotion, the Giants will have continued to alter Oracle Park so it ultimately flip-flops into being hitter friendly.

We hoped you liked reading Prospect Scouting & Stats — Hitter Hit Tool – Future by Mike Podhorzer!

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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